BEIS announces successful bids to Wave 1 of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund

In their 2019 manifesto, the Government committed to delivering a £3.8bn Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) over a ten-year period to upgrade the energy performance of social rented homes below EPC C. The aims of the Fund are to “deliver warm, energy-efficient homes, reduce carbon emissions and fuel bills, tackle fuel poverty, and support green jobs”.

An SHDF Demonstrator was launched in August 2021 with an initial investment of £62m from the overall fund. The NHC’s analysis showed that successful bids in the North represented only 14% of the funding allocated in England through the Demonstrator round: Sunderland City Council, Manchester City Council, and Leeds City Council were the successful Northern local authorities.

At the Spending Review last autumn, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, announced that £800m will be made available through the SHDF over the Spending Review period (until 2025). Bids for Wave 1 of SHDF were subsequently opened to competitive bids led by local authorities, the results of which were published this month.

Wave 1 totalled nearly £179m granted to 69 lead local authorities across England. Our analysis of the allocation shows that 19 of these 69 local authorities are in the North with funding totalling around £63m coming to the region. This represents 35% of total funding allocated through Wave 1 which is a significant improvement on the 14% the North received through the Demonstrator round.

All successful bids can be seen here and the regional breakdown in the North (rounded to nearest £100,000) is set out below:

Yorkshire and Humber LAs  Total
City of York £300k
Doncaster £3.2m
Hull £1.2m
Leeds £3.6m
Leeds £6m
West Yorkshire CA £5.1m
Rotherham £1.5m
Barnsley £1.7m
Total £22.6m
North West LAs  Total
Allerdale £1.2m
Blackpool £1.4m
Cheshire East £1.6m
Cheshire West and Chester £600k
Greater Manchester CA £10.5m
Liverpool City Region CA £11.1m
Total £26.4m
North East LAs  Total
Durham £6m
Newcastle £3.2m
Northumberland £1.2m
Sunderland £1.2m
Tees Valley CA £2.6m
Total £14.2m

 

Wave 1 of funding is anticipated to support the retrofitting of around 7,800 homes in the North, with successful projects expected to be completed by the end of March 2023. Responding to the announcement, the NHC’s Chief Executive Tracy Harrison said:

“Readying our homes to achieve net zero is a key priority for Northern Housing Consortium members, and we therefore welcome the news that Wave 1 of SHDF funding will support the retrofitting of approximately 7,800 Northern homes. We urgently need to build on this and look forward to continuing to work with the government to improve the energy efficiency of homes in the North.”

We are delighted that our local authority members listed above have been successful in their bids for Wave 1 of SHDF funding, and for many of their housing association partners that will deliver the projects. For example, the £2.6m awarded to the Tees Valley will be match-funded by £2.25m from NHC members Darlington Borough Council, Beyond Housing, Thirteen and North Star to lead the upgrading of homes across the region. Similarly, the ten Greater Manchester Housing Providers will use the £10.5m funding to upgrade nearly 1,300 homes in the region. Plans have also emerged from Torus, Gentoo, Peaks & Plains, Guinness and Plus Dane, and others.

Many of our members are already preparing their bids for Wave 2 of funding, which the Government have confirmed will launch in the next financial year. Turner and Townsend will continue to provide technical advice and project development support to those preparing SHDF bids through the Social Housing Retrofit Accelerator.

The NHC will continue to engage with BEIS through our role in the SHDF Consultative Panel and through other engagements to ensure the Fund works for our members. We know that upgrading the North’s homes will reduce carbon emissions, alleviate fuel poverty, and bring new skills and jobs to the region, so we will continue to work with our members to support them to deliver for people and communities across the North.

We are hosting a series of virtual events on housing retrofit following on from the recommendations developed by the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury, check them out on MyNHC.

Please do not hesitate to follow up on any of this with the NHC by contacting Anna Seddon (Policy and Public Affairs Officer) at anna.seddon@northern-consortium.org.uk.

Levelling Up Conference: Housing at the Heart of a Rebalanced Country

The February 2022 Levelling Up White Paper has made a start on rebalancing geographic inequalities, however there is much more to be done. Whether it’s ‘Levelling Up’, regeneration, or rebalancing. Whatever we or the Government call it, registered housing providers have a central role to play in working collaboratively across areas and sectors to develop sustainable local economies and support personal economic wellbeing.

The sector has a pivotal role to play in place-shaping and regeneration.

To this end, the Northern Housing Consortium in partnership with Karbon Homes and Bolton at Home, are bringing senior leaders together for a no-cost, full day conference focussed on the now defined Levelling Up agenda.

Levelling Up Conference: Housing at the Heart of a Rebalanced Country takes place Thursday 14th July 2022, 10.00 -16.30, at the Hilton – Leeds City.

Part response to the White Paper, part knowledge sharing opportunity. The day will promote the invaluable place-based work housing providers undertake in partnership to support the long-term economic wellbeing of their neighbourhoods. In doing so, we will advance housing’s role in the core Levelling Up missions of improving public services, boosting living standards, restoring local pride, and empowering communities.

With an exciting agenda soon to be announced, the event will include a mix of keynote speakers, good practice case studies, and a consistent focus on networking and collaboration.

For further information and to confirm your attendance, register via MyNHC:

https://www.mynhc.org.uk/event/general?id=Levelling_Up_Conference3040528344

Mission accepted: the Levelling Up White Paper and housing in the North

It’s five years since the 2017 Housing White Paper, Fixing our Broken Housing Market, which set out a package of reforms firmly focused on increasing the supply of new homes. Five years on, the Levelling Up White Paper, with its declaration that ‘Nowhere is the need for making opportunity more equal more urgent than in housing’ sets out a very different prescription on housing – it’s a sign that focus is shifting in Westminster, says NHC Executive Director (Policy and Public Affairs) Brian Robson.

Housing strategies don’t come along quite as often as new housing ministers, but they do emerge with a fair degree of regularity. 2007’s Homes for the Future: more affordable, more sustainable was followed by 2011’s Laying the Foundations; and then by 2017’s Fixing our Broken Housing Market. On that basis, we’re due a housing policy shake-up around now – and the Levelling Up White Paper appears to have delivered it.

Fixing our Broken Housing Market placed heavy emphasis on boosting the supply of new homes in the right places. Existing homes were covered in three short paragraphs within a 106-page document. By contrast, the Levelling Up White Paper makes housing quality a priority, with Michael Gove’s foreword calling for a ‘transformation in the quality of housing’.

The White Paper sets out a mission on housing that is broader than just new supply: By 2030, renters will have a secure path to ownership with the number of first-time buyers increasing in all areas; and the government’s ambition is for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50%, with the biggest improvements in the lowest performing areas.’

This focus on quality fits with what the Consortium is hearing from our contacts in Westminster and Whitehall: there’s a real shift in thinking on housing, with the Secretary of State taking a keen interest in the quality of existing accommodation. Some have said as much on-the-record: the Director of the Levelling Up Task Force (and former Homes England Deputy CEO) Tom Walker told the Convention of the North earlier this month that the Levelling Up White Paper represents a “very bold change in emphasis on housing policy” with “an emphasis on quality that hasn’t been there for several years… it’s a very significant change.”

So, what does this mean for housing in the North?

The mission on decency has significant implications for our region. If Government wants to see the biggest improvements in the lowest performing areas, we’re going to see particular focus on housing quality in the North West and Yorkshire. Across tenures, Northern Housing Monitor analysis shows non-decency running above the national average in both regions; with Yorkshire recording a rate of failure on the minimum standard criterion that is 50% above the England average. Non-decent homes tend to be older: 46% of the North’s non-decent homes were built pre-1919 and a further 22% between 1919 and 1944. These homes are particularly likely to be found in the North’s villages and isolated rural areas, and in the most deprived decile of neighbourhoods.

It should be noted that the mission excludes a large proportion of the North’s non-decent homes : those that are owner-occupied. 56% of vulnerable residents living in a non-decent home in the North are doing so in a home they own. This is a hard truth that Government will need to confront before long.

In terms of next steps, Government has made clear that further detail will be set out upon conclusion of the Decent Homes Review. We’re also expecting a Private Renting White Paper later this year. The first phase of the Decent Homes Standard Review – looking at the existing standard – has now concluded. The DLUHC Sounding Board, which the NHC is part of, is awaiting ministerial go-ahead for phase two – which will develop the new standard. It’s worth noting that the figures cited above are based on the existing (fairly basic) standard – a higher standard, especially on energy efficiency, will likely bring more homes into the mission’s scope.

Where does this leave supply?

The mission retains a focus on increasing rates of homeownership. Housing associations and councils in the North have a role to play here. The Northern Housing Monitor finds that delivery of shared ownership housing across the North has averaged around 2,600 homes per year in recent years. Independent assessments suggest the market for low-cost home ownership products in the North is in excess of 5,000 homes per year. There’s a lot of scope to increase delivery of low-cost home ownership products in the North, whilst being careful to protect the delivery of low-cost rented homes, where there’s a huge shortfall of social rented homes.

The White Paper also brings good news on policy changes likely to boost supply in the North: the end of the arbitrary ‘80/20’ geographical funding mechanism will be welcomed; and there’s also news on two key NHC priorities: the Brownfield Housing Fund and Homes England’s role.  £120m of brownfield funding has been announced for Mayoral Combined Authorities, and 77% of this is heading North – an increase on the 69% that was allocated to Northern MCAs in the last round. We’re also pleased to see Homes England’s role being refocused to drive forward regeneration – this was a key plank of our Spending Review submission and something we’ve been discussing with the Agency’s new leadership since last Spring.

And the 2017 White Paper isn’t dead – we understand work is beginning at DLUHC to ‘refresh’ the commitments made in that White Paper.

Will this shift last?

Even with a majority administration, UK politics is remarkably volatile. As the history of housing white papers shows, things change fast – and these are long-term missions. Even so, I think there’s reason for some cautious optimism.

I’d offer three early tests of the Government’s commitment to the housing mission:

  1. The Levelling Up White Paper tells us to expect a Private Rented Sector White Paper in ‘the Spring’. Does this emerge on time, and how ambitious is it on quality?
  2. How quickly does the Decent Homes Review progress, and is the same enhanced standard intended to be applied to the social and private rented sectors?
  3. We’ve been waiting for Government’s response to a consultation on raising Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in the private rented sector to EPC C for over 12 months. There have been some suggestions this might set a lower investment cap in ‘low rent areas’. This would be inconsistent with the housing quality mission – there must be a funding mechanism that avoids leaving parts of the North behind.

In the longer-term, the mission needs to marry higher standards with increased investment. The Northern Housing Monitor shows that bringing all the North’s existing rented homes up to the current relatively basic decent homes standard would cost £2.6bn (£2bn of that in the private rented sector alone). We need to see integration of energy efficiency investment with investment in wider decency – an exercise in cross-government coordination that will need all the wiles of a Whitehall operator like Michael Gove. Of course, devolving the funding – as the NHC has suggested in the past – would remove this integration headache for Government.

I’m definitely glass-half-full on the White Paper. The missions provide a long-term framework, and the fact some of them are carried over from the previous Industrial Strategy is positive – it suggests that long-term missions can outlive policy fads. The job for housing in the North is to ensure the newfound focus on quality achieves longevity. Mission accepted.

You can discuss the White Paper, and the role housing in the North can play on delivering on a range of levelling-up missions at our Homes at the Heart of a Rebalanced Country conference in Leeds on July 14th. Places are free for NHC members, and the event is arranged with the support of Karbon Homes and Bolton at Home.  Book your free place now, using MyNHC.

NHC appears before Commons Committee

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee is continuing its inquiry examining the quality and regulation of social housing in England.  Written evidence has been published, including the written evidence submitted by the NHC.

The LUHC’s inquiry is examining concerns about the quality of social housing, with a focus on the ability of the Regulator of Social Housing and the Housing Ombudsman to identify and address problems. The inquiry is also focussing on the proposals in the Government’s Social Housing White Paper aimed at improving the regulatory regime.

The Committee has started its oral evidence sessions. The first session held on 17 January heard from representatives of tenants and individual housing associations who gave evidence on the quality of social housing and how widespread and serious are the concerns about housing quality.

The second evidence session held on 7 February met with local authority and housing association representatives and focused on questions around the condition of social housing, financial pressures on housing providers, and the roles of the Housing Ombudsman and Regulator of Social Housing.

The NHC were invited to give oral evidence to the second session which included questioning on the reasons for the poor quality of some social housing and also the proposals in the Government’s social housing White Paper aimed at improving the regulatory regime.  Witnesses were also questioned on the conditions revealed in media investigations, which showed examples of sub-standard accommodation across a number of councils and housing associations.

Further oral evidence sessions are expected to be held and news about further events can be found here.

If you need any information about the NHC’s evidence to the inquiry, please contact Karen Brown karen.brown@northern-consortium.org.uk

Melting the money iceberg with Society matters cic

As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, what options does the social housing sector have at its disposal to hold back the tide in the form of practical and effective help? What support can they offer tenants facing the apparent inevitability of debt, and how can they bolster their own defences against an ever-increasing risk of rent arrears?

For fear of stating the obvious, there really are just two options available – supporting households to increase their income and reduce their costs. Easily said …

Society Matters cic is a national social welfare training operation set up by northern charity Citizens Advice Gateshead as a trading subsidiary in pursuit of its vision of ‘a fair society for all, with lives well lived’. The charity recognised a few years ago that just continuing to respond to the crises presented to them daily because people had – for whatever reason – got out of control of their finances, could only ever be a response, not a resolution, and the further into crisis these people are the more difficult it becomes to turn the tide. The distress experienced by someone in a state of crisis is so great, but often we think it’s also unavoidable. So the charity set out on a mission to ‘mobilise knowledge so the system works, and it works for everyone’ and by achieving this so, in turn, would we start to enable equality.

In practice that means making sure that the people and organisations ‘in the system’ (and we’ve intentionally not defined what that is – because it can involve so many aspects of people’s lives, from the utility company to the employer to the landlord), are empowered to help people to avoid getting into financial difficulties, and when there are signs that things are going wrong they can catch them before they fall.

It is well recognised, for example, that health and poverty are intrinsically linked, so if we’re recognising a health problem, by looking at the whole person we can anticipate that this is highly likely to also manifest itself as problems with money fairly immediately, and vice versa. Problems with mental health are both a cause and an effect of debt. Not being able to heat a home will often lead to or exacerbate a health problem, which in turn can impact on household income. Equally, if a tenant is struggling to pay their rent, in most cases that’s an indicator of a significantly deeper problem. As a charity we often find that a single crisis issue presented to us by a client, say the threat of eviction, is the tip of an iceberg that can unravel into up to a dozen or more issues, many of which have been left to fester below the surface to ultimately lead to up to that day the notice arrived. And when we say crisis, that has often come about as a direct result of someone trying to find their own solution to a money issue with only limited options available to them. Gambling, high interest door-step lending and prostitution are rarely life choices, but what might appear to be a way out for someone desperate in the absence of other alternatives.

So, if we return to that simplistic formula of enabling tenants to spend less money and gain more, what practical support can Society Matters cic offer to the social housing sector in an attempt to start melting the iceberg? Mobilising knowledge really is the key. For a start, you don’t know what you don’t know. If you’ve never dug into options for income maximisation through in-work benefits, charitable grants, accessible support for carers or disabled tenants, then how can you be expected to be able to point people in the right direction? If you don’t know what support is available for someone facing debt, to avoid the situation spiralling further out of control, you would be understandably fearful of providing reassurance or guidance for fear of making the situation worse.

As housing is such a fundamental foundation stone of people’s lives, we need to put this right.  If the housing provider has the knowledge and confidence to paint a picture of what might be possible to a tenant, to help them to slow the downward spiral and put them on the right track to balance their household books, and an accessible and impartial buffer can be put in place to take over as early as possible, then the system starts to work.

Society Matters cic has dug deep into the knowledge and acute, front-end expertise of its advisory team to find a way to mobilise knowledge to make the system work, and the result is a programme of quality, affordable learning and development for professionals working across the housing, employability, justice, utilities and community and voluntary sectors, and for employers who are committed to supporting the welfare of their staff.  Workshops and courses are delivered exclusively online in a highly interactive virtual classroom environment for between 2 and 6 hours, and many bring with them CPD accreditation providing both a reassurance of quality and the opportunity for your staff teams to gain evidence of their own commitment to their professional development.

You can find out more about the training on offer at https://societymatterscic.com/social-welfare-training/ and to explore options for direct access to social welfare advice and information services for tenants and housing teams who need accessible, impartial and quality assured solutions, please get in touch.

 

Jayne Graham MBE FIEP

Director of Society Matters cic/Commercial Director of Citizens Advice Gateshead

Social Value Conference back for 2022

Now in its eighth year, HACT and NHC’s Social Value conference is firmly established as a must-attend event showcasing the latest thinking from across social housing and beyond.

This year’s conference take place Thursday 17th February as a full day online conference and as in recent years NHC members can attend at no extra cost as part of their membership.

As ever, attendees can expect to hear from, and engage with, leading practitioners giving invaluable insights into the future of social value, supporting your thinking and ambition for driving value for your residents, communities, and business.

Soon to be released, the event’s agenda has been curated to promote the role of social value in addressing the sector’s most pertinent challenges:

The importance of social value and sustainability is clear. With the growth of ESG funding requirements, organisations are required to look beyond the financial cost and consider how the services they deliver, or commission might drive positive economic, social and environmental impact.

Similarly, over the last decade Social Value has played an increasingly important role in procurement. Post-Brexit, the introduction of new legislation will require a new understanding within the sector to both manage frictions and grasp new opportunities. We’ll be getting to grips with the implications for contractors, suppliers and tendering organisations.

Ten years on from the pivotal Social Value Act 2012, key stakeholders will reflect on their experience over the last decade. Have the challenges of the past been met? And what more can we do to overcome them in the future both within and across the social housing sector?

Across the North, place-based organisations are maturing an understanding of their role as anchor institutions and the role of Social Value in maximising their local impact. Based on a case study from the NHC, the conference will explore ethical procurement approaches that supports the fight against inequality and climate change, and centres health and wellbeing.

And with the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper on the horizon, with its emphasis on community pride and quality of place, the conference will look at how to build social value into every aspect of neighbourhood regeneration. From selecting a Joint Venture partner, to contractual requirements, to resident engagement, attendees will hear from speakers who have successfully applied a Social Value framework onto a ground-breaking renewal project.

The Social Value Conference forms part of the close relationship between the NHC and HACT, who been pioneering the use and understanding of Social Value since 2012. Having launched the Social Value Roadmap in 2020, and with Phase 1 soon to be complete, HACT will use the day to update attendees on what comes next. Attendees will learn how the Roadmap will incorporate work on ESG reporting, community investment, procurement, and the social value of tenancy. HACT will also be exclusively previewing their new, dynamic online environment where you can model, monitor and measure your social impact. Be the first to discover the future of social housing!

This year the conference will be held on a unique online platform designed to maximise interaction between attendees. Come to hear from, and engage with, key speakers but also make valuable links and discuss key topics with other attendees.

Whether attending for the full day or for sessions most relevant to you, register your attendance via MyNHC now to receive joining instructions prior to the event.

The 2022 Building Regulation Changes (CO2 Emissions) Policy Brief

Introduction

The Future Homes and Buildings Standard is a set of standards that will complement the Building Regulations to ensure new homes built from 2025 will produce 75-80% less carbon emissions than homes delivered under current regulations.

Certain home improvements in existing homes will also be subject to higher standards.

The Future Homes Standard was first announced in the government’s spring statement in 2019. There have been two consultations into the Future Homes Standard, which proposed a variety of measures for new and existing homes.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) announced Building Regulations changes will come in from June 2022.

A technical specification was confirmed in the government’s response to the Future Buildings Standard consultation, which will be consulted on in 2023, with the necessary legislation introduced in 2024, ahead of implementation in 2025.

Local authorities will continue to be allowed to set higher energy efficiency standards for new homes in their area once the Standard is published.

 

Summary

  • As of the 4th of January 2022, Plans for New Building regulation amendments that are to be implemented on the 15th of June 2022 have been released in several different documents, these cover the following topics:
  • Ventilation (Document F)
  • Conservation of Fuel and Power (Document L)
  • Infrastructure for the Charging of Electric Vehicles (Document S)
  • Overheating (Document O)

 

  • The most significant news regarding this development is that new homes following all these measures will produce 30% less CO2 than current homes according to a government press release on the documents

 

What do the Documents Say?

Document F- Ventilation

As stated previously document F focuses on the issue of adequate ventilation in homes and this particular priority revolves around the ideas of improving indoor air quality for the health of occupants, ensuring fewer cold draughts in homes and preventing damp/mould.

The document also introduces minimum ventilation rates in buildings (page 18/table 1.3) which monitors the effectiveness of household appliances in extracting a certain number of water litres per second. Finally, the document also covers mechanical ventilation’s extensive role in heat recovery where it is present (page 24/25) which implies that it likely links itself tangentially to the documents concerning energy efficiency and CO2 reduction below.

 

Document L- Conservation of Fuel and Power

The most important document regarding emissions and efficiency as this sets out a “target emission rate” for all dwellings in regulation 26 as well as stating all new builds must be near zero energy in regulation 25B (both on page 16)

Furthermore, Regulation 25A (1A-D) (page 28) also outlines the government’s recommended alternatives for high energy efficiency these include: cogeneration, use of renewables, heat pumps and district/block heating and cooling. It will also be a required measure to limit heat gains and losses through building fabric and any other part of the structure as per Requirement L1(a) (page 31).

 

Document S- Infrastructure for the Charging of Electric Vehicles

Intention is to provide greater accessibility for electric vehicles and requirements are being ushered in to supplement this. For example, Requirement S1 on page 11 has made it so that all new housing developments must have electric charging points and cable routes in their parking spaces. The number of these charge points varies but must be one of the two following:

 

Option A

The total number of parking spaces around the development, where there are fewer parking spaces than there are dwellings contained in the residential building

 

Option B

The number of parking spaces that is equal to the total number of dwellings contained in the residential building, where there are the same number of parking spaces as, or more parking spaces than, there are dwellings.

 

Document O- Overheating

Finally, this document covers the issue of overheating, the main requirements of which surround heat mitigation in the event of unwanted solar gains in the Summer with potentially even mechanical assistance (page 12).

This requirement according to the document can either be achieved by categorising building risk based on the solar gains it experiences as well as its cross-ventilation performance (page 13) or through a less simplistic method known as “dynamic thermal modelling” (page 16) which is method of building modelling that predicts/analyses the internal conditions and energy demands of a building using weather data and building characteristics.

Although this method is more complex the government states that if utilised it can provide more flexibility for designers than simply measuring cross ventilation particularly in buildings that have high levels of insulation or airtightness (page 16).

However, in new builds using this second method there must be a demonstration on the part of the housebuilder that the house meets the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) methodology for overheating known as TM59 in order for the development to be fully compliant (page 16).

 

Wider Implications

Although not yet fully in place the impacts of all of the requirements found in these documents could see a reduction of CO2 in new builds by up to 30% which would clearly be a massive boost towards the success of the government pledge for net zero and with these regulations coming as soon as June 2022 this could be to help gauge the sector response to carbon cutting measures which will also certainly be part of the Future Building Standard that will be implemented in 2025.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion these changes seek to drop carbon emissions in new homes by a third by focusing on energy usage and building composition which may become further nuanced by the time the Future Building Standard is introduced in 2025. Needless to say the recent changes are definitely linked to the government’s efforts of working towards net zero and will likely be part of an incremental process in adapting building design to suit the 2050 target.

Furthermore, for context, Respondents to the original consultation raised concerns regarding the energy performance of buildings which were beyond the scope of the consultation or existing Building Regulations, including questions about embodied carbon and tackling the performance gap. In response, DLUHC and BEIS are developing a Statement of Intent that will consider what needs to be done by government and industry to deliver net zero buildings by 2050. This will be published shortly and will be part of the considerations while developing the full technical consultations for both the Future Buildings and Future Homes Standards.

Finally, if members are interested in compliance and the wider aspects of adapting to building regulation changes Consortium Procurement offer a number of solutions to assist Members in remaining compliant with a wide array of building regulations and legislation, including our Asbestos, Legionella and Mould framework, HVAC+R, Drainage and Plumbing DPS, and Property Safety and Security framework.

 

 NHC contact

For any policy enquiries about the new building regulations and the means to address them please contact:

Joseph Breen – Policy Specialist in MMC

Joseph.Breen@northern-consortium.org.uk

 

Northern Housing Monitor – Invitation to Shape the next edition of the Monitor

The Northern Housing Monitor is an analysis of Northern housing data, creating a ‘State of the Region’ report describing emerging trends and identifying the developments which have the most significant impacts on people, homes and neighbourhoods in the North.

The first edition of the Monitor was published in the autumn 2021.

The Monitor is part of the NHC’s commitment to building an evidence base on the issues that matter to our members and as a useful, instructive and unique source of Northern housing data.

The 2021 edition of the Monitor focused on energy efficiency with chapters covering a wider suite of analysis on the North’s housing markets.

The Monitor was accompanied by an interactive geographic look-up tool – the Northern Housing Databank – providing a level of local analysis.  This will work to build responsiveness to housing needs at a local level, to support developing targeted strategies that respond to the differing needs of local areas.

The NHC is now working towards the next edition of the Monitor to be published in the autumn of 2022.

Member Reference Group

To ensure that the Monitor continues to meet members’ needs fully, we will set up a small Member Reference Group from across our membership.

The Member Reference Group will be a key component in shaping the content of the Monitor and to act as a sounding board as the work develops.

WE ARE INVITING INDIVIDUALS FROM MEMBER ORGANISATIONS TO PUT THEMSELVES FORWARD TO TAKE PART IN THE REFERENCE GROUP.

We anticipate that the group would meet virtually to determine the key data needed to underpin the Monitor. In addition, the group will comment on the outputs including visual and graphical outputs as well as narrative text.

The timeline for the group to meet will cover March – August 2022 and meetings will be held virtually or use an online tool to share information. We would anticipate this would involve three or four meetings, with other consultation being held offline to ensure that the final document is fit for purpose.

If you are interested in being part of the group, please email karen.brown@northern-consortium.org.uk by 11th March expressing your interest.

Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury Webinar Series to Launch Next Month

In November 2020, the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury launched its report and recommendations to the sector; their views, as social housing tenants, as to how tenants, social landlords, and other place-based organisations can work together to tackle climate change in our homes and neighbourhoods.

As part of its commitment to promote and advance the Jury’s work, the Northern Housing Consortium has arranged the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury webinar series. Across five thematic webinars the series is designed to build on the Tenants’ Climate Jury project, exploring the recommendations and beginning a conversation within the NHC membership as to how the Tenants’ Jury’s views, concerns, and ambitions can be incorporated into our work to ready homes and communities for a Net Zero future.

The series launches in February with the webinar Retrofit Standards & Accreditation. As part of the Jury discussions were held with residents who had lived experience of their home being retrofitted. Both positive and negative experiences were heard about the quality of their experience and the Jury came away with a desire to see the sector ‘get it right first time’ – to both preserve a positive customer experience and ensure the retrofit itself is sustainable in the long run.

The Tenants’ Climate Jury project is delighted to welcome back Professor Anne Power, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy and Head of LSE Housing and Communities, who will give a keynote address as part of the first session. Professor Power previously gave ‘evidence’ to the Jury as an expert commentator discussing the agency of tenants in retrofit and regeneration projects.

Here, Professor Power will discuss her work with a particular focus on the findings of the LSE report Retrofit to the Rescue: A social impact evaluation of one of the most ambitious retrofit projects of it’s kind; the largest social housing block to have been refurbished to the EnerPHiT standard with close engagement with residents who remained in their properties throughout.

Over the coming weeks, the webinar series will discuss the key themes the Jury highlighted; the creation of a ‘resident-centric retrofit journey’, expanding climate knowledge within the sector for both tenants and officers, making retrofit one part of a holistic approach to neighbourhood renewal, and being upfront on costs and protecting residents through the energy transition.

For further details on all sessions, and to confirm your attendance, please visit MyNHC.

Shadow Cabinet shake-up: Who will face Michael Gove at the despatch box?

Keir Starmer completed his far-reaching reshuffle of his top team this month. Starmer said the purpose of the reorganisation of the Shadow Cabinet was to present a “smaller, more focused” team that mirrors the shape of Government. This is the second reshuffle Keir Starmer has undertaken this year, with new faces appointed to prominent posts in preparation for the next election.

Facing Michael Gove in his new brief at DLUHC will be Lisa Nandy MP, who has been named as Shadow Secretary of Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government (note that ‘Local Government’ has been added to the shadow title after it was dropped in the renaming of MHCLG in recent months). Nandy takes over from Manchester Central MP, Lucy Powell, who has been moved from the shadow housing brief to become Shadow Culture Secretary.

Lisa Nandy has been MP for Wigan in Greater Manchester since 2010 and has held shadow posts since 2013 in the Department for Education, Cabinet Office, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Most recently, she has served as Shadow Foreign Secretary since April 2020. The move to Levelling Up Secretary for Nandy has been understood by some as a demotion but levelling-up is the flagship policy of Johnson’s Government and its delivery will be a key battle in the upcoming election.

Since taking up the role, Nandy has been clear on the importance of her brief to hold the Government to account on levelling-up, telling the Guardian:

“It is the battleground on which the next general election will be fought. It is also the battle for the future of the country.”

When asked in an interview by Kay Burley on Sky News whether the moves in the reshuffle mean that Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is moving to the left or right of politics, Nandy responded “We’re moving North”.

She has been known for her strong voice on left-behind communities and a champion of struggling towns across the UK. In her leadership bid last year, she argued that to deliver change “we have to become rooted in our communities again”. This perhaps makes Lisa Nandy a good fit to take on the Government about their plans to level-up the regions.

The next oral questions in the House of Commons with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is scheduled to take place on Monday 24th January 2022 and we look forward to tuning in to the first session between Gove and Nandy.

Across the rest of the shadow housing team, Mike Amesbury MP remains Shadow Housing Minister, and is joined by Matthew Pennycook MP (previously Shadow Minister at BEIS), Alex Norris MP (previously Shadow Health Minister) and Sarah Owen MP (also Opposition Whip and currently a member of the BEIS Committee).

Lucy Powell MP had outlined a range of Labour policies on housing and planning during her short stint as Shadow Housing Secretary this year, such as reforming affordable rents to match 30% of average income; building 150,000 social homes per year; ending Right to Buy; giving local authorities new powers to buy and develop land; and establishing a new Building Works Agency. It will be interesting to see how new policies and approaches develop within the newly appointed team.

Moving over to the shadow BEIS team, Jonathan Reynolds (MP for Stalybridge and Hyde) has been appointed Shadow Secretary for Business and Industrial Strategy, with Ed Miliband (MP for Doncaster North) taking up the new title of Shadow Secretary of Climate Change and Net Zero. Alan Whitehead (MP for Southampton) remains as Shadow Minister in Miliband’s team, along with the new appointment of Olivia Blake (MP for Sheffield Hallam). Ed Miliband has been vocal about the Government’s approach to greening the UK’s homes so we hope to see a continued focus on housing decarbonisation in his new team.

Other Northern MPs named in the shake-up include Yvette Cooper (MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) as Shadow Home Secretary, Bridget Philipson (MP for Houghton and Sunderland South) as Shadow Education Secretary, Louise Haigh (MP for Sheffield Heeley) as Shadow Transport Secretary, and Jim McMahon (MP for Oldham West and Royton) as Shadow Environment Secretary.

The Northern Agenda has helpfully mapped out the ‘Northern-ness’ of both the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet, showing that 16% of Boris Johnson’s top team hold seats in the North while 50% of Labour’s top jobs are filled by Northern MPs.

The Government recently confirmed that the long-awaited Levelling Up White Paper, previously expected before Christmas, will be delayed until January 2022. We will be closely following developments as they emerge on this agenda and making it clear that improving housing quality and supply in the North will be a core component of the levelling-up mission and vital to meet net zero targets.

You can see the full new Shadow Cabinet team here.

Please do not hesitate to follow up on any of this with the NHC by contacting Anna Seddon (Policy and Public Affairs Officer) at anna.seddon@northern-consortium.org.uk.